Letter to Editor
Written by Irene Sergonis- Published in Mount Olive Chronicle 10/1/21
Boards and Commissions are designed to give citizens a voice in their government and allow them to influence decisions that shape the quality of life for their neighbors. Dedicated volunteers are contributing their time and expertise on a total of eleven committees in Mount Olive to preserve and improve our town in areas ranging from planning to recreation. Many of our volunteers play active roles on several committees and deserve our gratitude for many of the lasting improvements that began as an idea in Committee.
One of the duties of Town Council members is to serve as liaisons to committees and boards in order to seamlessly blend the role of municipal government with the roles of its volunteers. An involved, active Council liaison is vital for a successful Committee or Board. It is a tragedy that some of our Town Council Persons are not fulfilling their roles as liaisons to our Committees and Boards.
Council Person Ferrante is the council liaison to the Environmental Commission, Library Board, and Budd Lake Association. I have attended every Environmental Commission meeting since September 4, 2019. Mr. Ferrante missed every meeting until his first appearance on May 5, 2021. Mr. Ferrante did not attend Library Board of Trustees Meetings from 2019 through May 2021 according to meeting minutes. The Budd Lake Association has not been active since 2017 even though Harmful Algae Blooms have closed our beaches, litter is not collected and some docks are in disrepair.
Mr. Ferrante rarely reports on Environmental, Lake or Library issues at Town Council meetings and does not advocate for the public in these vital areas. For instance, Mr. Ferrante was silent when the residents of Waterloo Valley Road expressed their grave concerns about the KDS concrete recycling facility during a May 28, 2019 meeting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSo5vsNVE0E&list=PLBzVDwiyTAAlnm9LAI0BVzFRlRgKKN6Ft&index=10)
Mr. Ferrante’s scarce reports on our library make no mention of the buckets collecting water in the main room due to a long-standing problem with the roof and the fact that the library is less accessible since it is now closed on Sunday. A comparison of the programs available at neighboring Roxbury Library show that we have much work to do if we want to compete with this top ranked facility with a similar budget.
Mount Olive’s Planning Board has the important responsibilities of preparing the Master Plan, reviewing subdivision plans, making zoning changes and reviewing major developments. I was shocked to hear Council Person John Mania ask the company representatives of Fratelli Beretta, “when are you breaking ground?” when they were presenting their preliminary and final site plan approval for a massive facility on Clark Drive on March 18, 2021. Chairman Howie Weiss had to remind Mr. Mania that approval had not yet been granted. Though Mr. Mania often tells the story of how he kept amusement parks out of Mount Olive in 1972, he told the residents of Waterloo Valley Road to give up their fight against the KDS concrete recycling facility on May 28, 2019.
Board of Education liaison Council Person Daniel Amianda’s long recitations of what took place at the previous Board of Education meeting shows that he is takes his job more seriously but the role of a liaison is to make connections between the two entities, not to produce the minutes. Our schools were ranked in the top 4% of all school districts in the United States and they were named in the top 50 best school districts in New Jersey with an overall A rating. Mount Olive needs a productive partnership between our schools and government to help us meet the challenges of the future and achieve excellence.
I expected an improvement in the performance of the Town Council when they voted themselves a 25 percent raise on February 4, 2020 but that has not been the case. It is time for New Voices and Real Vision for Mount Olive.
Mount Olive Road